Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Hong Kong's new security law means that companies, international travelers, and governments around the world are now facing decisions about how much they need to extricate themselves from previously close ties to the city.

Why it matters: If Hong Kong remains a major international business hub, China could use it as a lever to significantly erode global free speech norms.

Here are a few areas we're watching:

1. Internet and social media: Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram have stopped complying with Hong Kong government data requests while they assess the impact of the national security law.

  • The legislation requires individuals working at internet firms to hand over data and comply with censorship requests, or else face up to a year in jail and large fines.
  • Hong Kong protesters used numerous social media and messaging platforms to organize protests and other activities that are likely now illegal under the new law.
  • My thought bubble: Because the security law applies to speech and organizing anywhere in the world, the global future of digital free speech may hinge in part on what tech companies with operations in Hong Kong decide over the coming weeks.

2. Extradition: Because of its formerly independent judiciary, Hong Kong has extradition treaties with more than a dozen countries around the world, including the U.S., Australia and Germany.

  • But the security law subverts Hong Kong's judicial system, replacing it with specially appointed judges and in some cases funneling suspects directly into mainland China's court system, where convictions and harsh sentences for political crimes are all but guaranteed.
  • Future extradition requests from Hong Kong authorities could target people for political crimes.
  • Canada just announced it was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

3. Aircraft: The new law states it applies aboard all Hong Kong-registered aircraft, such as Cathay Pacific.

  • "The big question is if and how other countries would recognize or maybe even participate in what the national security law tries to achieve in international air traffic to and from Hong Kong," Jakob Wert, the editor-in-chief of aviation news site International Flight Network, tells Axios.
  • Alvin Cheung, a legal scholar at New York University, had a different take. "What that means is, don’t fly Cathay," he says.

Go deeper

Jul 21, 2020 - World

Hong Kong protestors adapt signage to defy new national security law

Photo: Vincent Yu/AP

Hong Kong protesters are adapting their signs and slogans to skirt the repressive new security law, AP reports.

What's happening: A national security law enacted by China has set harsh penalties for a wide-sweeping number of political crimes. Prior to the law, stores supporting the movement put up artwork and notes filled with encouragement. Those have been taken down out of fear of authorities.

  • Now, Hong Kong cafés known as "yellow shops" because owners sympathize with pro-democracy protesters, have shown support through walls decorated with blank sticky notes instead.

Axios-Ipsos poll: Fear of voting

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±3.0% margin of error for the total sample; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to worry about in-person voting — with nearly two in three seeing it as a large or moderate risk to their health — according to this week's installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This could pose a significant disadvantage for Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates in November if the pattern holds — especially in states where high infection rates persist, or where there are significant hurdles to mail-in, absentee or early voting.

Trump: Coronavirus is “under control"

President Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that he thinks the coronavirus is as well-controlled in the U.S. as it can be, despite dramatic surges in new infections over the course of the summer and more than 150,000 American deaths.

  • “They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague,” he told Axios' Jonathan Swan.